Dick and I are not very materialistic people and we’re very thrifty. We have few “toys” and like keeping our lives simplified. My mother can attest to phone calls from me after scoring a great find at our local thrift store. My day is made when I find a great fitting pair of jeans for $1 (I usually shop on half-price day) or a brand new (tag still on) designer tote bag for $1.75.
The most obvious indication of our thrift is that we drive our cars until they die. We currently drive 16-year-old and 11-year-old cars. We are pretty attached to our oldest car. It was the car we took Sam to his first day of kindergarten in, the car he had his first and only accident in, and the car he drove home from his last day of high school. The clock and radio are burned out and the under-car support where the jack goes was so rusted through that it has fallen off the car. The white is trimmed with rust in a nice bilateral pattern and Sam’s dent is still the focal point on one panel, but oh….the memories it holds.
Knowing that its demise is not too far off, we decided we should start researching cars so we have an idea of what we want to buy when the end comes. I’ve started to notice the car ads in the paper and have made a few phone calls. It was clear to me during my first conversation with a car salesman that the definition of "bells and whistles"......which we thought we had when we bought Rosie (our 11-year-old car).....has significantly changed. I was seemingly out of the "car features" loop.
Me: I see this car has models that range from $21,000 to $34,000. What could possibly be the reason for a $13,000 difference?
Him: Oh, the stripped down model has nothing.
Me: What do you mean NOTHING? Does it have cruise control and air-conditioning and heat?
Him: Of course, but really nothing else.
Me: Well what else would I need?
Him: It has no power seat adjustment and no keyless entry.
Me: I’ve used keys to open cars my whole life, and I am still quite able to adjust my seat manually. Does this stripped down model have a clock and a radio?
Him: Of course, that’s standard. Also a CD player.
Me: Well, I don’t know what that $13,000 is buying, but I would not need it.
Him: You don’t get a GPS (I want to tell him that I am a closet cartographer and a directional mastermind and would never use one), or a TV/DVD (in a car? and I would use this when?), or heated seats (our butts need pre-heating when the car has a heater?).
Me: Well, thank you for your time. We are just starting the process of looking, but if we decide on this car, we would be more than happy with the stripped down model. It has more than enough to get us from one location to another.
Him: Well, please come in and test drive both of them. I think I could persuade you to buy one of these loaded models if you would just look at them and see all the features. There’s a good chance you’ll reconsider.
Under my breath: Good chance? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.
Me: Thanks again. Goodbye.
I may be as rusty as my old car when buying a new one, but I know that the gap between needs and wants has become much narrower in our culture, and I am still wise enough to discern the difference, and be content.